Thursday, October 19, 2017

Judgment Day

"If we are honest with ourselves, we have to admit that sometimes our assumptions and preconceived notions are wrong, and therefore, our interpretation of events is incorrect. This causes us to overreact, to take tings personally, or to judge people unfairly." 
Elizabeth Thornton

Persistent "Problems"
I work with people approximately...100% of the time. Whether it's in meetings, on site with clients, at my company's home office, interacting on the phone , or using any of the many digital or social media tools I use to stay connected. I am constantly working with people.

And, well...sometimes that makes things complicated.

One of those complicated issues appears in the form of "ongoing problems:"
- the difficult leader
- the hiring manager who is never satisfied
- the blame game that seems to take on a life of its own
- and the endless litany of excuses that are nothing more than an attempt to deflect the "leader's" inability to address complex issues

Unfortunately those excuses often become the corporate world's alternate facts, and in turn drive a wedge between business partners that should otherwise simply sit down and talk through the various problems that need to be resolved.

Do It Yourself
Our assumptions, and faux reality of the dynamics are often complicated further as we try to be so sensitive to every one's feelings that we don't step in and take charge.

I'm not talking about bullying...I'm talking about understanding that the team around you has tried their best, but they simply are not far enough along in their development to actually understand what to do next.

That is when savvy HR leaders step up.
That is when savvy HR leaders take control.
That is when savvy HR leaders do not allow the noise to interfere with achieving results.

How About You
Do you have issues in your organization that don't seem to be going away? Have you heard the same tired excuses as to why "this person" or "that department" are so difficult? If you're worried that others "won't like you anymore" if you jump in, you have missed the point.

It's time to tell your team to step aside. 


You are the leader...remember?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Monday, October 9, 2017

You Didn't See Them Coming

I've been away from the blog for a couple of weeks. It's been a wild ride of speaking at conferences, connecting with progressive human resources executives, and candidly, getting really fired up about the future of HR.

But not the HR group we normally think about. There is a gathering storm of HR executives in North America who are throwing away their excuses and are literally calling their CEOs and telling them it's time for a dramatic change.

I know this is true...because I've had the privilege of spending hours and hours with them.

Unstoppable Force
Who are these leaders you ask? Well, they come from an industry that not only gets little "air time" in the social media space; but they also are so committed to the missions of their organizations that the last thing on their mind is personal glory or "internet fame."

They are the HR Executives who lead the senior care communities across North America, and they are not going to be silent any longer.

They are driven.
They care deeply for the residents and families who trust them with their loved ones.
They are as fired up as I am about taking HR to a whole new level. 

Is this great news or what?!

One of the barriers these leaders have had to face is the perception that... 

...senior living = nursing home. 

Not true.

While nursing homes play a vital role in our society, and are certainly a part of their corporate structure, that term is by no means representative of the incredible breadth of services offered.

The commitment not only to their organizations, and to their industry is one I've rarely seen in the HR space. 

They not only want to build their employer brands in the most contemporary ways possible; but they want to elevate the perception of their entire industry to help it grow.

Are you kidding me? 

When was the last time your direct competitor wanted to strategize with you about making your industry better? 

(Please don't say you both contributed money to the local Nursing school...good Lord that's been done for 50 years and hasn't made a dent in the lack of qualified faculty.)

How About You
If you would like to connect with this new wave of fired up leaders make sure you follow the Senior Care Summits conference announcement for next Fall. You will be inspired by the passion these leaders demonstrate at every turn, and you just might realize that there is a new group of HR Execs that are soon to take the lead in showing us all how contemporary HR is done.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Friday, September 15, 2017

Propaganda, Culture & Employer Brand

You spend so much time telling me your culture and people are the most valuable assets of your organization....but you don't round, you don't invest precious resources in employees, and you spend your whole day in meetings claiming to be busy.

You don't have the culture you think you do.

Your turnover hasn't improved in a meaningful way for years

You don't dare take risks to move your organization from old school to a cutting edge contemporary company...but... care about your organization and your employees.

Please. Stop. Talking.
All of this has happened on your watch.

If you believe that your press releases, HR policies, and "Memos to Staff" are even remotely based on how your employees, and potential employees view your organization you are kidding yourself.

You can not hide from reality.
You can not hide from indecision.
You can not hide from how the world sees you.

Please. Start. Doing.
Here's the good news. You have the ability, today, to turn your excuses into a well thought out plan of action. It will require effort. It will require perceived risk...and it will require your leadership.

No one else can do it but you.

Step One
Take a look at your value statements, your messages to your employees, and (if you have anything) the messages to prospective candidates about your organization on your career site.

Now, align your behavior, the time on your calendar, and the words you use with your colleagues to match these messages.

Step Two
Build a comprehensive employer brand strategy to immediately begin using your employees as both retention and talent attraction tools.

Step Three
Ignore the noise. Your senior leadership colleagues will not understand what you're doing. Your Marketing department will feel incredibly threatened because they will have no idea what you're doing either.

Keep pushing. Only you can make this happen. 

It will be lonely...and nerve-wracking...and...


How About You
Are you ready to finally get rid of all of those tired excuses you've been using since the 1990s?

There is a reason HR does not get the respect it deserves, and that starts with us.

You can do it...and I will help you if you need me.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Simple, Not Easy

I've attended many leadership development classes. I've facilitated hundreds of hours of them too. In addition, conferences have been a regular part of my life for years as an attendee and speaker, and I've sought out the leadership-oriented sessions at every opportunity.

Through it all, the various approaches discussed, models I presented, and the themes about effective leadership behaviors all seemed so...


Why Are We Still Talking About This
So why are we still struggling to move from all of the talk about effective leadership, to workplace cultures that have world class leaders with employees lined up to join their teams?


The answer actually is quite simple...

...leadership is hard. 

All of the wisdom, case studies, models, encouragement, examples, and fancy jargon are incredibly useful up to the point where we have to do something. It's the "doing" that is so damn hard. 

If we think about practicing a musical instrument for hours, it still feels very different when we take the stage and perform in front of a crowd. 

If we think about practicing a sport for hours, it still feels different when we step on the ice or court to play in front of a crowd.

And when we lead people, it is very different from "practicing" in an artificial classroom setting.
How About You
What approach do you take to transition from the simple messages around effective leadership behavior and turn them into your leadership practice? Would your employees tell me you are doing a good job; or, is there some room for humility, and then improvement?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Bleed the Fifth

"If you are a boss, ask yourself: When you look back at how you've treated followers, peers, and superiors, in their eyes, will you have earned the right to be proud of yourself? Or will they believe that you ought to be ashamed of yourself and be embarrassed by how you have trampled others' dignity day after day?"
Robert I. Sutton

For those that believe they are "great leaders" and have so much experience and "always know the answers" I have some bad news for you.

You have created a corporate culture rife with fear. 

Yes you have. 

Your arrogance and "coaching" are not perceived the way you've convinced yourself that they are. Your teams are not being honest with you, they are worried about losing their jobs, and the fact that you are "always right" simply adds fuel to the culture bonfire you've created.

You Can't Change
Well, maybe you can change. But I suspect it will be the most difficult thing you've ever done in your career, and here's why.

You have to actively infuse humility into who you are as a leader.

I'm not talking about dropping a bunch of leadership jargon on the team. I'm not talking about employee feedback sessions that you facilitate and get the comments that you were expecting all along.

Newsflash! They are not going to tell you their truth. They will continue to bleed quietly and "accept" your reality.

As the high value team members slip away, and you continue to behave in the exact same way year after year, it makes me wonder how much longer the tired excuses can be used to justify the same results?

How About You
What would it take for you to really change your style? Perhaps if you were threatened with your position? Maybe if you publicly fell flat on your face and your team, despite their feelings about how you treat them, rallied to support you?

What would it take for you to get over yourself?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Tuesday, August 29, 2017

One-Faced Leader

I hear a hell of a lot of noise in the world of leadership. Fancy titles, and years of doing the same thing over and over without changing with the mean, lots of not equate with one of the easiest ways to be effective.

Be real! 
Be you!
Stop trying to sound like something you're not!

Regardless of the terms in the glossary of your certification credentials handbook of choice, I beg you to only use them when you're taking your favorite certification exam.

No one else cares about them, and quite honestly, no one should. 

"Jargon, in any field, becomes the cover that hides rampant incompetence of leaders everywhere. 
Leadership is not about words, 
it is about connecting with the people 
in your organization and making 
a difference for them, and your company."
- Jay Kuhns

Not About You
Time and again we hear the pundits espouse the power of listening, connecting, engaging, and working closely with our teams. 

Yet the reality is far too often a constant reminder from leadership that they are the "smart ones" and the rest of the team should be grateful that they are in place to save the day.

Pass me my barf bag.
These are the same leaders who are mocked behind their backs for being so embarrassingly out of touch with their own corporate cultures that the team wonders what they actually do all day.

How About You
There should only be one face that leaders wear. It should not be covered in fancy titles, corporate jargon or illusions of power shown only in the workplace. Instead, it should be one that is authentic, consistent, and unafraid to be seen where it matters most...

...on the front line.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Vulnerability - A New Leadership Competency

I've been working for a long time. Well, actually, for a really long time, and most of that has been in leadership. Some of the "virtues" of leadership I learned early on were to never show weakness or be indecisive, because...

weakness = career over
indecisive = zero respect

I'm guessing that mindset is not unique to the healthcare industry.

However, I would suggest there is a different competency out there that is a far cry from the commonplace failings of weakness and the inability to make a decision.

- "open to criticism"

New Leaders
Once upon a time I was a new leader eager to climb the corporate health system ladder. I wanted to try new approaches, use new technologies, and take risks. For some reason I've always been enamored with risk!

...which doesn't make me sound like an HR guy...but whatever...

What I often ran into though was a large group of old-school leaders: bright, successful people who had no interest in doing anything differently, ever.

I quickly grew frustrated with what turned out to be my perception of these folks...what they considered their "strengths" I considered to be an "out of touch" view. What they thought of as "steady and consistent" I soon labeled as "stale."

Fast forward to I'm asking myself if the young leaders in the world of work look at you and me that way?

Are we out of touch and stale?

New Expectations
I'm convinced now more than ever that not only is effective leadership about staying current with industry trends, technology, and employee expectations as they shift and modulate over time. But also to show something else...

...our vulnerable side.

How many of us equate being vulnerable with weakness? 
How many of us see a direct link between loss of credibility and being vulnerable?
How many of us are obsessed with maintaining our perceived power as leaders?

Consider the impact of being real and showing our human side to the employees in our organizations. Do you think they will connect with us more? Might they see beyond our fancy job title and lofty position on the maze of boxes on the org chart?

Maybe, just maybe, they will believe in us and want to stay and be part of something special.

How About You

How do you show your human side at work? Perhaps embracing vulnerability, and leveraging it as a true leadership competency is the missing piece in your approach.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.